College Football action on Thursday evening and a pair of teams from the Mid-American Conference will square off as the Ball State Cardinals invade Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio to grapple with the Ohio Bobcats. This contest has a start time of 7:00 pm ET. These teams last met back in 2015 and Ohio won that game at home by a score of 48-31.
The Cardinals enter this contest at 2-2 in league play after falling at home to Eastern Michigan by a score of 42-20, while the Bobcats improved to 2-1 within the MAC after a 49-14 beatdown of Bowling Green at home.
Defense Struggles In Loss To EMU
The Ball State Cardinals are not having a great year as they are now at 3-5 after a 42-20 home loss to Eastern Michigan last week. They have had some good moments as they lost to Notre Dame by just eight earlier in the year and won at Central Michigan a couple of weeks ago. They were 34 point dogs in that loss to the Irish. Still, two of their three wins were against an FCS foe and Kent State, and then last week they were crushed at home by a mediocre team. The defense had some mixed results as they allowed the Eagles to pile up 163 yards on the ground but at just 3.3 ypc. The pass defense did not have mixed results. The Eagles did not get much per rush but what it did was open up throwing lanes, and EMU threw for 257 yards at 9.2 yards per attempt. That is precisely where a rushing attack can help the passing game. The Cardinals are 100th in the nation against the run at 192.5 ypg and will now face a Bobcat team that is 33rd in the nation in running the ball. Not a good combo for the Cardinals.
Neal to Miller for 6 through the air!
— Ball State Sports Link (@bsusportslink) October 20, 2018
The offense was not great against the Eagles as they put up just 384 yards, committed two turnovers and passed for only 4.0 yards per play. Sometimes having a good showing on the ground doesn’t always help a QB. The Cardinals ran for 227 yards on 7.1 ypc in the game, but still, struggled to throw the ball. Riley Neal hit just 21/39 passes for 157 yards with a TD and an INT in the contest. He has thrown for 1841 yards with 10 TDs and four INTs on the year but at just 58.4% passing. Neal has not been accurate all year, and it cost him in the loss to the Eagles. He did run for 77 yards, and a scored and has rushed for 337 yards and a five TDs on the year. WRill Jones made his 1st start in three weeks in the contest and ran for 80 yards and a score. He is someone to watch. The Cardinals are 82nd in total defense and 67th in points allowed, while on offense they are 41st in total yards and 97th in scoring, putting up 25 ppg.
Bobcats Shred The Falcons At Home
The Ohio Bobcats enter this game playing very well as they have won three of their last four games and are 2-1 in league play. Their lone loss in the MAC was by three points at Northern Illinois two weeks ago. They were able to bounce back from that loss with a strong 49-14 home win over the Bowling Green Falcons. It was by far their most complete game of the year as both the offense and defense were on the same page. The game was tied at 14-14 early in the 2nd period, but it was all Bobcats after that. Let’s begin with the offense as they hung up 597 total yards, including 392 yards on the ground and they did so on 7.8 ypc. Maleek Irons led the ground attack with 116 yards to give him 445 yards on the year. Quarterback Nathan Rourke was next with 101 yards and a score. He is a dual-threat QB and now has 492 yards and four scores on the year. Rourke also had a good game as a passer as he threw for 193 and four TDs and on a whopping 16.1 yards per attempt. He has thrown for 1490 yards (9.7 ypa) with 13 TDs and four INTs on the year.
— Ohio Football 🏈 (@OhioFootball) October 21, 2018
The Bobcats are 5th in the nation in yards per pass attempt at 10.0. That is a clear result of having a strong running game as it has opened up many good throwing lanes for Rourke and Ball State just had an issue defending the pass because EMU was able to run the ball. Over to the defense, where the Bobcats allowed only 314 yards to the Falcons, it was one of their better defensive efforts of the year. They did allow BGSU to hit 19/24 p[ass for 214 yards and an 8.9 yards per pass attempt, but overall, the defense had a good showing. Despite that, the Bobcats are still at 115th in total yards allowed, 128th against the pass and 95th in points allowed, giving up 31.0 ppg. On the other side of the ball, they check in at 31st in total offense, 53rd in passing and 28th in scoring putting up 36.3 ppg.
- 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game
- 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games
- 6-0 ATS in their last six Thursday games
Ball State is;
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 Thursday games.
- 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games following a straight up loss of more than 20 points
- 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games in October
Updated on Oct 25 at 4:40pm EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
It looks like the sharps are in play in this one as the line has gone from Ohio -10.5 down to -10, despite the fact that 77% of the tickets written are on Ohio. The feeling is that the sharps have no faith in the Ohio defense.
Injury / Weather Report
No weather issues— Cloudy and in the 40s.
Ball State’s Injury Report:
RB Caleb Huntley (187 yards) is questionable.
Ohio’s Injury Report:
LB Dylan Connor (18 Tackles) is Questionable as is CB Dylan Connor, and DB Justin Birchette.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I see the line has come down a bit, but I’m not scared. I like the Bobcats in this one as their offense poses some issues for the Cardinal defense. The Bobcats are 5th in the nation and yards per pass attempt as they have a strong running game, which helps out a very accurate QB. The Cardinal just allowed EMU to put up 9.2 ypa in their last game and they will have trouble with that in this one. The Bobcats are 33rd in the nation in rushing, and the Cardinals are 100th at defending the run. The Bobcats have not been strong on defense this year but they are off their best defensive performance of the season, and that will give them confidence heading to this one. Look for Ohio to take this one by at least 17 points.
Prediction: Ohio -10
Full-Game Total Pick
I can see this one as a high-scoring contest. The Bobcats played a solid defensive game last week against the Falcons, but this is still a bad defense and will allow some points in this one. The Cardinals have averaged 25 ppg, and I can see them hitting around 27 in this one. The Bobcats will put up big numbers on this Ball State defense, especially once they get their ground game going. Rourke should have some considerable throwing lanes down the field, and that will lead to easy, quick scores by them. 44-27 Ohio.
The Over is 8-2 in Ball State’s last 10 Thursday games and 7-3 in their previous ten conference games. For Ohio, the Over is 4-1-1 in their last six Thursday games and 10-4-1 in their last 15 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Prediction: Over 64
Half-Time Side Pick
The Cardinals are not a good team at all and they have been outscored by 14 ppg in the first half on the road this year. Ohio comes in averaging 29 ppg in the first half at home, while the Cardinals have averaged just 5.3 ppg on the road in the first half. The Bobcats will grab a big early lead in this one.
Prediction: Ohio -6.5 (First Half)
Half-Time Total Bet
It is a bit risky as the Cardinals have struggled to score in the first half on the road. Still, Ohio has averaged 29 ppg at home in the first half and they have allowed 21.4 ppg in the first half at home, while the Cardinals have allowed 19.3 ppg in the first half on the road. Look for plenty of scoring early in this one.
Prediction: Over 33.5 (First Half)